Smithfield reassures customers

Published 6:08 pm Saturday, July 13, 2013

The president of Smithfield Foods sought to convince lawmakers this week the company would be the “same old Smithfield” after a merger with Chinese company Shuanghui International.

Also this week, a waiting period associated with U.S. antitrust laws expired, and the company announced it has already received foreign antitrust approvals of the transaction from Mexico and Poland.

C. Larry Pope testified Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry to “review the benefits of the transaction for U.S. farmers and agriculture while reaffirming the commitment to upholding the highest food safety standards,” according to a press release from Smithfield Foods.

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“With respect to agriculture, we expect this transaction to drive growth and expansion not only for our growers, but for the entire U.S. pork industry,” Pope said. “Smithfield Foods owns over 400 hog farms and has contracts with more than 2,000 family farmers across the country. Our agreement with Shuanghui will maintain all of these contracts and arrangements. Moreover, this transaction creates a terrific opportunity through growth in exports for U.S. hog farmers to expand production to meet the growing Chinese demand.”

Pope also spoke to food safety standards, which have been one of the top concerns of people who have reservations about the merger.

“Smithfield’s facilities will continue to maintain their quality and will experience the same rigorous level of USDA FSIS inspection, regardless of the ownership of this company. Absolutely nothing about how our products are made, inspected or distributed will change.”

Shuanghui also is committed to maintaining Smithfield’s operations, staff and management, Pope said.

“There should be no noticeable impact on how we do business operationally in America and around the world as a result of this transaction, except that we will do more of it,” he said.

Under the terms of the agreement, announced May 29, Smithfield shareholders will receive $34 cash for each share of Smithfield common stock they own. The transaction still must wait for approval by the shareholders, other foreign merger clearance laws and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.